In ancient India lived a sculptor renowned for his life-sized statures of elephants. With trunks curled high, tusks thrust forward, and thick legs trampling the earth, these carved beasts seemed to trumpet to the sky. One day a king came to see these magnificent works and to commission statuary for his palace. Struck with wonder, he asked the sculptor, “What is the secret of your artistry?”
The sculptor quietly took his measure of the monarch and replied, “Great King, when, with the aid of many men, I quarry a gigantic piece of granite from the banks of the river, I have it set here in my courtyard. For a long time I do nothing but observe this block of stone and study it from every angle. I focus all my concentration on this task and won’t allow anything or anybody to disturb me. At first, I see nothing but a shapeless rock sitting there, meaningless, indifferent to my purposes, utterly out of place. It seems faintly resentful at having been dragged from its cool place by the rushing waters. Then, slowly, very slowly, I begin to notice something in the substance of the rock. I feel a presentiment… an outline, scarcely discernible, shows itself to me, though others, I suspect, would perceive nothing. I watch with an open eye and a joyous, eager heart. The outline grows stronger. Oh, yes, I can see it! An elephant is stirring in there!
Only then do I start to work. I use my chisel and mallet, always clinging to my sense of that outline, which grows ever stronger. How the big fellow strains! How he yearns to be out! How he wants to live! It seems clear now, for I know the thing I must do: With an utter singleness of purpose, I must chip away every last bit of stone that is not elephant. What then remains will be, must be, elephant.”
We as humans do not need to bring our real Self, our higher Self, into existence. It is already there and has always been there, yearning to be out. The spark of divinity can be found at the heart of each person, waiting to radiate love, compassion, healing, peace, forgiveness, and wisdom everywhere, because that is its nature. Sometimes we feel inadequate, afraid, angry, depressed, even perhaps unfulfilled; the very fulfillment we seek is within us and to a supreme degree!
When we get a glimpse of the splendor of our inner -being, our beloved preoccupations, predilections, and peccadillos lose their glamour and we begin to chip away at the very things that keep us from experiencing our own divinity. By removing that which is pretty and self-seeking, we bring forth all that is glorious and mindful of the whole. In this there is no loss, only gain. The granite chipped away is of no consequence when compared to the magnificence of what will emerge.